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The Rector's Daughter (Modern Classics) Paperback – August 1, 1985

4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


The Rector's daughter, Mary Jocelyn, is "a decline... as much a part of her village as its homely hawthorns." Mary's mother is long dead, her brothers have both left England, and Ruth, her sick sister, requires constant care. Her father, Canon Jocelyn "rather despise[s] the rest of Europe" and is "an austere critic of young women, demanding little of them in action, but everything in repose." Mary's few acquaintances are old family friends to whom she feels more obligation than true affection and, try as she might to deny it, she knows all tenderness in her father died with her mother. Now a middle-aged spinster, Mary is used to being lonely, but she cannot stop longing for love. Then Mr. Herbert, the son of her father's old friend, moves into the neighborhood. Slowly, surely and without intention on either one's part, love blossoms. Love so strong that Mary cannot speak of it or control her blissful fantasies. When Mr. Herbert leaves for the seashore to recover from a chill, they both believe he will return to ask for Mary's hand in marriage. An elegantly written and scathingly honest account of society, manners, and marriage, The Rector's Daughter is a fiercely passionate and quietly tender story of love and loss. -- For great reviews of books for girls, check out Let's Hear It for the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. -- From 500 Great Books by Women; review by Jesse Larsen

From the Publisher

Dedmayne Rectory is quietly decaying, its striped chintz and darkened rooms a bastion of outmoded Victorian values. Here Mary has spent thirty-five years devoting herself to her sister, now dead, and to her father, Canon Jocelyn. Although she is pitied by her neighbors for this muted existence, Mary is content. But when she meets Robert Herbert, Mary's ease is destroyed and years of suppressed emotion surface through her desire for him. First published in 1924, this novel is a rich exploration of Mary's relationship with her father, of her need for Robert, and the way in which, through each, she comes to a clearer understanding of love. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Classics
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (August 6, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140035753
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140035759
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,145,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ellis Bell VINE VOICE on August 17, 2010
Format: Paperback
Mary Jocelyn is the middle-aged daughter of an elderly clergyman, who has spent all her life in Dedmayne, a quiet English village. The arrival of Mr. Herbert, son of an old friend of Canon Jocelyn's, brings much excitement for Mary, who falls in love with him. But life is much more complicated than that, and Mr. Hebert marries Kathy, a younger woman who is Mary's polar opposite.

FM Mayor novel is character-driven rather than plot-driven. It seems as though all her life, Mary has been waiting for something--anything to happen to her. Her life at the vicarage in Dedmayne, severely curtailed by her father, is constricting. And yet Mary spends most of this novel (covering a period of about ten years) letting things happen to her. I found it very hard to like Mary at times, considering she's not really an active participant in what goes on in this novel. She's not like her friend Dora, a really engaging spinster who's embraced her unmarried status with perhaps a little too much gusto. It seems as though Mary wastes her whole life catering to the needs of other people, rather than doing things for herself. And yet, there's a quiet passion about Mary, a desire in her to see more of the world.

The book also highlights the contrast between two generations: one of the late Victorian period, the other of the early 20th century. Although the book takes place presumably at the time it was written (1920s), the feel of the novel is very Victorian, and it may have something to do with the more or less repressed Canon Jocelyn, unable to express the way he truly feels. Mary is stuck between the two generations, unable to escape the confines of her own narrow world. It was very hard for me to understand why Mr.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By farmereloi99 on August 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
this is my favorite book. beautifully written, enthralling plot, characters so real you could touch them, poignant message. it meets all my requirements! highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By sally tarbox on June 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
Virago Classics at its best in this engrossing tale of plain middle-aged Mary, daughter of a stern but loving clergyman. Mary's spinster friend Dora is cheerfully resigned to her lot of church and charity work but Mary secretly yearns for more:
' "I have longed for it...I have sometimes thought", Mary said with feeling "the kisses-"
And then Mary's life seems to be changing...
Interesting to compare the different lifestyles available to young people when this was written (1924)- from the Victorian upbringing of Mary to the fast-living young set who crop up later in the book, with their slangy talk and casual affairs.
A heartily recommended read; and the end is so beautifully written.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Marlowe on January 24, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This wonderful story of Mary, the rector's daughter is so lovely and heart breaking. The characters are beautifully drawn. Definitely worth a read!
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